Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The things you remember

They say that time heals all wounds, and although I have mainly forgotten the pain of labor, there are other things that I have not forgotten. I had a pretty severe case of nausea and vomiting throughout my whole pregnancy (and even for a while afterwards). My midwife used the term "hyperemesis gravidarum" (HG) and she prescribed me anti-nausea medication that, in the end, only barely took the edge off. But I'm not so sure that I would go as far as calling what I had HG. It was bad nausea and vomiting, but what I went through wasn't nearly as bad as all-out HG. I've read some stories written by women who have suffered HG, and what they write chills me to the bone. I think what I had falls somewhere between the lines of severe morning sickness and very mild HG. Regardless, it sucked.

My sister had HG during her pregnancy. She was so sick, I don't know how she got through it. She was pregnant when I was doing my dissertation fieldwork on Ometepe-- a fairly remote volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. At that time, I could only relate to her experience through the motion-sickness induced nausea I felt whenever we took the boat to the mainland. I thought of her, and how awful it must be, throughout our epic trip to the mainland on a day that was windier than it had first seemed. The excursion involved a nearly 3 hour bus ride to the port city of Moyogalpa, an hour and a half boat ride across choppy Lake Nicaragua, a 15 minute taxi ride to Rivas (where we got our supplies), and then doing the whole thing in reverse to get back home again. The boat ride back across the lake was brutal. I puked, I moaned, I clenched my fists, I survived only by intense meditation and the power of yoga breathing. I thought, it can't be like this for my sister, can it? No one could survive feeling like this all the time.

Well, it was like that. I took medication that made the nausea just tolerable enough that I somewhat retained the will to live, but it did not make life enjoyable in the least. It didn't go away right after Will was born either. Even now, almost 5 months out, there are still so many things that make me feel sick.

During the latter half of my pregnancy, I had a dentist appointment. I was more than a little nervous about going, for fear I'd puke on them while they were working on my teeth, but I was even more afraid to not go-- who knew what kind of awful state my teeth would be in from all that puking. As I entered the office and began to hesitantly explain my situation to the dental hygienist, I was surprised that she knew all about this condition. The receptionist at the practice had suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during her pregnancy, and everyone in the office knew how horrible it could be. "You should talk to her," the hygienist told me. "She was so sick. She lost 20 pounds and couldn't work for months. Her daughter is 6 years old now, and she doesn't ever want to have any more children." I did talk to her on my way out, and I could see how haunted she still was.

There are things you remember and things you forget. I am surprised that I've already forgotten how bad labor was, despite the fact that while I was experiencing it, I considered it to be excruciating. I am nowhere near forgetting hyperemesis. And judging from the few women I've talked to who have had HG, you never do. Rob (who I think might still be traumatized from witnessing Will's birth), was surprised when I told him I would rather go through birth again than experience hyperemesis. As SL's wife pointed out, the pain of labor isn't enough to make you not want to have more babies. I'm pretty sure that hyperemesis is. If I ever forget about it, I think it will be a long time from now. At the moment, I haven't even stopped having flashbacks.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Just wondering WHY/ in this MODERN day and AGE of SO many THINGS, some DR.has NOT figured OUT how to PREVENT HG?????????? are they JUST morons and DON't BELIEVE a WOMAN CAN be that SICK?? or is it REALLY that HARD to come up with a PILL to prevent it??? Whichever the case may be,,,,,,, let's hope SOME research person is OUT there earnestly hunting a CURE for HG!!!!! and SOON will have it available...... I also REMEMBER how SMELLS bothered you soooo much, EVEN YET, LIKE PERFUMES<<<<<<< WOULD BE NiCE TO AVOID SMELLS ,but SPOSE it's inevitable you will be AROUND SOMEONE WEARING OBNOXIOUS PERFUME!! keep the choke bowl handy>> :) luv you, foxymama

amypfan said...

I have had many strange and rare conditions during pregnancy (like, say, PUPPPs twice), but I thank my lucky stars daily that I have never had to go through what you and Michelle did!

Anonymous said...

It is really surprising how the pain of childbirth becomes a far distant memory, but, I am sure feeling nauseated all the time will NEVER completely leave. I never had to experience it, so won't even begin to know what it was like, but as I look at the pictures of your darling 'Will', I know it makes it seem like it was all worth it. I know, there are days you wonder?????? He is so cute, and I enjoy all the pictures you have shared.